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Former UST recruit Gabriel Obusan commits to UE Red Warriors

Filipino-Canadian basketball prospect Gabriel Obusan has committed to join the UE Red Warriors, both the player and team head coach Jack Santiago confirmed to All-Star Magazine on Sunday, March 24.

The Mississauga, Ontario native will serve one year of residency in UAAP Season 87 this year as a transferee before playing his first of three eligible seasons as a Red Warrior in Season 88.

“With Coach Jack’s system there and all the players, I feel very welcome there. All the players welcome me there. I’ve already hung out with them a couple of times since being in the Philippines. I really like the atmosphere there. Bomba UE!” the 6-foot-3 guard said in an exclusive interview.

Obusan was the best player for Fil-Can Nation Select in their title conquest of the Manila Live 19U championship game against Fil-Am Nation select on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. Following a quick celebration with his teammates in the locker room, he was welcomed by Santiago with a hug while exiting the arena.

The two have seen each other regularly as of late as Obusan has been participating in the UEMBT’s practices. One of the reasons he feels comfortable there is because of the presence of other Filipino-Canadian standouts like Devin Fikes, Jack Cruz-Dumont, and Hunter Cruz-Dumont.

Obusan’s long-term goal in the Philippines is to “go pro,” but in the meantime, he wants to help UE break a 15-year Final Four drought in UAAP men’s basketball.

“I want to win [in the] UAAP. I want to. If you look at our group of guys, we have a big future. We have a lot of guys coming in. We have new recruits coming in. Watch out for UE. Next year and in the years coming, we’ll be really solid, so watch out for us,” he said.

Obusan initially committed to the UST Growling Tigers in 2023 before opting to return to Canada where he joined the Georgian Grizzlies. In his lone season, he averaged 6.3 points on 41.2% shooting from the field. According to the prospect, the extra year at home allowed him to better prepare for the Philippine college basketball scene.

“I wanted to come back to Canada to get myself bigger, stronger, and lose some weight. Get more aggressive for the next system. Now that I feel I’m ready, I’m back in the Philippines, ready to play some basketball.”

He averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in his final high school campaign.

Obusan said there were no hard feelings which led to his exit from UST. He also considered a return to the Growling Tigers as he participated in their recent practices as well.

“I worked out with UST since coming back. No hate to UST. UST’s a really good program. Coach Pido [Jarencio] has a great system and they have a great future. You see a bunch of players coming in. My teammate Zain Mahmood [is coming] in. They have a great team, great system. No problems with them.”

Ultimately, he felt University of the East was the place to be for him.

“I feel very welcome. I can understand some Tagalog as well, but it’s a very welcoming feeling, like I’m back in Canada. It’s very home-y. I think UE’s a really good place for me to start my career as a Filipino basketball player.”

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